REDWOOD BURL TABLE
Wild with roots, a Gorgon head:
my young eyes cogwheeled at
the tangled waist-high mass riverbar trucked
and my squat mallet sent thick flakes like
flack off my checkerboarded chest,
hints of burl beneath the busted rock
stuck in the dirty redwood,
till the giant's clubbed wart clean of stone
gave a milled slab set rickety
on two paint-thick sawhorses,
wobbling in the pull of the screaming grinder's
wire bristles spitting back the loose punk wood.
Renegade spiders ran, nooks invaded by the violent metal wand
and brushed sawdust left the surface clear
for belt sanding before subjection to the stages of the orbital.
When the meaty red cross-section doused gleamed
and the scrubbed rings' fluctuating bands rippled,
torched edges blackened shone silver
where the blue acetylene tip had spread,
and set on the knotted legs of a less charred base
the finished tabletop
took center stage in the showroom
for your more and less impressed tourists,
whilst in the sideyard my grimed thumb
spun a bowl.
the world-dreamer drifts alone
upon a lake of lotus without limit
above and below a pillared heaven
The sun grows
the whole world withers
wind spins into cyclone
and cyclone into fire
The spider respools its web
IF LIFE EAT DEATH
Hieing to the wombed hill
Mid yip and yirr of Baalists beery
We woozy skirmishers
Wambled past the whippoorwill
And gave a girn to gimcrack,
Bedaubed in wizardry and woodcraft,
Riled rimers, with pyretic vim,
Barmy each pant and peck,
We salivating songsters,
Scragging victuals along the junket,
Raw wood thrush and songsparrow
Our stark beefsteak.
Sopped the Bacchic balladry,
Blackish the scape,
Our mockery beneath Varuna,
Till to indigenous ziggurats
We did sorn the shadow lords,
A measly chiliad of bubbling keeves
Ripe for us to batten.
Floating in the wetsuit nets of light cross my mask:
refracted through the choppy surface they waver on the rock
as the hollow rhythmic hiss of my mouth’s breath
pushes through the tube–strange stone shapes
pass steady in a narrow view–arms forward
I fly streamlined toward the sandbagged pickets
where the scouring current tears away the riverbed.
Over a developing hole wedged rock taps the lonely aluminum,
raised dust glints fool’s gold, dead grass collects
twigs between the bars and undulates decaying in the cage.
I work my way along the trap. No salmon are inside.
Bloated faces pushed forth by my imagination
watch me slice my way upstream like a gill man in the Amazon.
INTERVIEW WITH A TRIBAL LEADER
Saved from a blue clay mudslide by a Horse Mountain potstop
we rescheduled, and when later came, there he was, looking just like on TV
where I’d seen him talking on Bigfoot and so looked him up in the phone book.
My buddy Eric couldn’t make the drive a second time
but my other buddy Tom could and he was there with a Camcorder catching
Jimmy in his chair and the back of my already balding head.
It’s weird to see yourself in a tight Humboldt T-shirt interviewing Jimmy
after all that hassle when in the first five minutes you realize
the show sort of lied and Bigfoot is a subject where maybe
you know more than he does. Great tribal leader, full of all kinds of stories,
only he hadn’t seen anything and wasn’t really sure. Probably TV
just wanted an Indian. If he pulled off his head and showed a
Bigfoot inside I would not have been surprised, but on the outside
he was eighty-four years old and told us of the time when he was a kid
talking Hupa in a cherry tree eating cherries and some George Washington
of a teacher jabbed him with a nail on the end of a stick to make him talk American.
He told us how to leech acorns and showed us pictures of the Deer Dance.
I told him the interview was only for me, and Tom, it was just something we wanted to do.
Back on his deck before we left, looking at the river, he said his mother told him
one time she saw four of them come out of the forest to swim,
a male, a female and two young ones, and they swam till they saw her and left.
Upon our holy day of rest
Strolling arm-in-arm abreast--
Our linked, glinting smiles warm the way--
Along our path this Sabbath day
Our neighbors step in time with us.
Proceeding uniformly thus
We each wish each a merry morn,
Till in green grass spotted forlorn,
Innocent as new-fallen snow
The youngest child asks where we go.
"Jacob, tell her where we're treading."
"We're going to the beheading!"
THE HEROISM OF HEDONISM
conjures wolfish doggerels
in sacred games and festivals of atonement.
The plow of evil pushed
tills exhausted land
and the tallow taken underground
lights cities beneath Vesuvius.
A hero shall emerge:
as a blade baptized in a bed of fire,
in ceremony shaped and sharpened,
a severer of shackles,
he is the bane of formulaic observance.
Pity the conqueror or praise
but stand not in his way
lest panthers' claws
and chariot wheels' grind
pin mockful notes on dying ears
frozen in the ash of agony.
MILKING THE BACK
Thick vat glass added fresh back size
bobbing in brine like swollen legions of buffalo tongue
and the clerk would hook the one Grandpa let me pick.
At home we’d unwrap the massy package,
I with my fork, ready to poke.
Grandpa’s deft prong freed embedded gravel bits
whose frugal removal fueled our maracas.
Then he’d heft the back to sheets of wax paper
where for half a day it dried before it was applied.
I’d watch the pungent juices ooze as if alive,
seeping the way a beached whale weeps.
When it was time, Grandpa lifted the back
like a butcher with a side of beef,
squeezing loose the yellow milk
into a foil pan at his feet.
Now I am an old man.
You can’t find fresh back anymore.
I have no idea why we did all that.
SAIL AN ALIAS
When I feel Doom mooD
That is when I Word roW
There I go in Deep speeD
Rabid in my Wolf floW
I shed the Animal laminA
I shed the GoddammaddoG
To release the Droll lorD
I turn the Revel leveR
I like to Moor a rooM
I like to Fool alooF
There I drink my Regal lageR
Then how Me leer 'n reel 'eM
I see No evil live oN
Though I Lived a deviL
Where the Pools looP
Without the Flesh selF
In Sleep peelS
Reviled I deliveR
IN THE ULTIMATE POEM FIRST AND FINAL
letters combine to align in arrangement which reads
not just across left to right or right to left but forth and up and down and back
all making sense
no space omitted
it all interacts
form and content match
and the letters take shapes which in turn comment
senses over senses
and the poem is thought
and the thought is matter
and we walk in the poem
and we breathe in the poem
and our hearts beat the poem
and beyond all language
the poem ex p l O o
l O O
O o O O
O o o o o
o o o o o o o
o . o . d o . . o . .
. . . e .
. . . . . s.
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